06When they became a fad in the 2000s, it was one of the very few fads that was actually sensible for California. Agaves certainly are not for every landscape, and certainly do not suit everyone’s taste, but they are ideal for the climate here. In some regards, they are more practical than the more popular of the native specie that tend to be scrubby looking and short lived. Agaves really should have become trendy a long time ago.
The problem with the fad, like so many other fads, is that it caused the object of desire to be overly popular for a while. Many agaves consequently got planted into situations where they did not belong. Landscape designers often forced them into the gardens of clients who did not know what they were, or did not even like their bold style. To show them off most prominently, designers often put the agaves next to walkways, driveways and doorways, rather in the background.
Those who know agaves know that they belong in the background because of their nasty foliar teeth! Technically, they are neither thorns not spines, but they are so wicked that they are known by both terms. These teeth are remarkably sharp and stout. Next to walkways and doorways, they can inflict significant injury to anyone unfortunate enough to bump into them. Next to a driveway, they can puncture tires! The foliar teeth of agaves are so dangerous that they do not belong anywhere in the gardens of homes where children or dogs live.
What is worse about those that are too close to walkways and such is that they grow! Landscape designers are notorious for installing small agaves that grow large in tight spots, merely because they were so cute and innocent when they were small.P80822K

12 thoughts on “Horridculture – Agave

  1. As it happens, one of my own commenters was offering a similar opinion about the poor placement of agaves in her town, and what she said certainly echoes what you’ve said here. I’m going to share this post with her; I suspect she’ll be nodding in agreement all the way through.

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    1. I should have written a more thorough article about it. This one is rather brief. Although I happen to like agaves, I have started to dislike them in the past many years just because they have been so problematic.


    1. Agave attenuata is one of the few agaves that is sensitive to frost. We do not grow it here much. The only specimens I know of are in sheltered spots, or on the coast. Agave attenuata does very well in coastal regions of Southern California and the Los Angeles region, and often gets used very properly. However, it is not one of the ‘trendy’ agaves.


    1. That is one that does well in Southern California, but not here. It is very sensitive to frost, and is very ugly if it gets damaged. Brent, my colleague down south, constantly reminds me of the specie that he can grow, but I can not grow.

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  2. Agaves are very popular here in Austin, and while I appreciate their beauty in the right spot, really, so many are NOT in the right spot. And, they get huge and are expensive to remove when their time is up. I have some in pots and that’s fine–I yank them out when they get too big and replant with a pup. Good post!

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    1. Thank you. On the way to Oklahoma, I noticed that agaves and yuccas were more popular in Arizona and New Mexico as well, as they should be. They looked grand on the freeway through Albuquerque. Since I did not stop to see many home gardens, I could only imagine that they have the same potential for problems that they have here, but are more common.


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